Gabe Kapler's time as a manager is limited to just one season — a decade ago in single A. So the Phillies' new manager, who sees the game through a nontraditional lens, paired himself Tuesday with a bench coach rich in experience.
Kapler hired Rob Thomson, who worked for the New York Yankees under Joe Torre and Joe Girardi. Thomson spent the last 10 seasons on the Yankees' staff, including four years as a bench coach. He was let go after the season when Girardi was fired.
"I loved the fact that he was going to think differently than I was going to think about the game," Kapler said. "On top of the fact that he's among the most prepared people that I've ever been around, the most diligent people I've been around. I pride myself on being prepared and I think this guy is extraordinarily prepared. He has a history of supporting a manager in a way that I don't think is normal, outside the bounds of what you would expect from a support perspective. He has a really deep understanding of in-game moves, which I think is going to be an extraordinarily important complement."
The hiring of Thomson means that Kapler's last position to fill is first-base coach. Thomson, 54, interviewed in November for the Yankees' managerial position, which was filled last week by Aaron Boone. He played four minor-league seasons before becoming a minor-league coach, first with Detroit, then with the Yankees. He spent 28 seasons with the Yankees, serving as a minor-league coach and manager, field coordinator, director of player development, and vice president of minor-league development before joining the major-league staff.
"I've talked to managers that have worked with him. I've talked to players who have played under him. I've talked to guys that have been against him. This process is everything. This is everything," Kapler said. "The staffing process should be the most thorough thing you do because one of the things you guys are going to hear me talk about constantly is we build environments. And this is the foundation of the environment. It's the soil for the players to grow. You can't get tired during this process. You can't be like, 'This guy doesn't fit, this guy doesn't fit, this guy doesn't fit, but let's just settle.' The fact that Rob was available was a moment of celebration for everyone."